It’s early days yet, but so far I have no complaints about 2014. It’s rare for anything to live up to all expectations, but my brother’s wedding last Friday did just that, and then some. I knew it was going to be a lovely day, but having talked about it and thought about it for so long I wasn’t expecting to be quite so surprised and blown away when the day finally arrived. Every time I visited the bride and groom’s house in the run up to the big day I saw some little crafts and decorations my talented new sister-in-law had been working on, yet when I saw them all in place on the big day I was still amazed by their beauty and the attention to detail. I’d seen pictures of the hair and make-up trial run and heard descriptions of the dress, but when the bride made her entrance in the town hall I, like everyone else, was just overwhelmed by how gorgeous she looked. And I’d sat through the party playlist in full not once but twice, yet was still excited by each and every track (from the high of Reet Petite even to the low of Disco Down).
The entire day was absolute perfection, from having some pre-wedding fizz with my brother, who was perhaps more nervous than any human being has ever been, to the beautiful ceremony in the town hall, to the glorious pie and cake, to dancing the night away with family members I hadn’t seen for years. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many happy faces. It was a beautiful celebration befitting two of my favourite people.
So, no January blues for me – I’m yet to stop smiling! However, the traditional Janaury health-fest certainly won’t pass me by and it will be vegetables galore for me this month. Here is a promising start to the new year – a colourful array of spicy, sweet vegetables with plump juicy apricot chunks and fluffy couscous alongside. With joyful occasions and delicious food, 2014 is off to a flying start!
Serves 6, adapted from World Food Cafe
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 red onion, sliced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 aubergine, cut in half lengthwise and thickly sliced
1 each red and green peppers, deseeded and thickly sliced lengthwise
150g green beans, halved
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
500ml vegetable stock
handful dried apricots, halved
handful coriander leaves
1. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion for about 7 minutes until soft.
2. Add the spices and fry for a further minute.
3. Add the potato, sweet potato, aubergine and red peppers. Stir everything together well and cook over medium heat for about 7 minutes until the vegetables are beginning to soften.
4. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and stock, and stir in the tomato puree, green beans, dried fruit and fresh coriander leaves. Bring to the boil.
5. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until everything is beautifully tender. Serve with couscous.